Sunday, April 12, 2015

Trip Report: If a Fall Trees in the woods... (Hartman Creek State Park (4/12/15))

Bob and I went out to Hartman Creek State Park today. The forecast looked good, one of the warmest days we've had in awhile, and I wanted to get a chance to use some of my equipment and check out where it interfaces with the Ice Age Trail. Before long, I'm going to do a trial-run down the Ice Age Trail, starting roughly 10 miles out from the park, and hiking in, as a first foray into section-hiking on a national scenic trail. We timed our excursion exceptionally well, today was a beautiful day, and one of the few 70+ degree days we've had this year. Car was reporting as high as 75F and I believe it.

Starting out we drove into the park for me to get my bearings. Rapidly, we decided to head back to the park office, as I didn't know where exactly the Ice Age Trail interfaced with the park. After getting a map, our course was clearer. We looped back in and went to park at the Allen Lake parking lot. I pointed out the fish runs and waterfall coming out of Allen Lake where I'd refreshed myself towards the end of a long hike with Alex, Margret, Kevin, and Megan back in 2009. Then, we headed the opposite direction of that hike in the direction of my favorite spot in the park.

My favorite spot in Hartman Creek lay just up the trail from Allen Lake, at a T-Junction where one of the hiking trails that leads around the lake joins with the trail we were on. The soil is somewhat sandy there, and I can remember just stopping with the above mentioned hiking crew, listening to the wind whisper through the pines. Bob and I did likewise for a moment, listening to the trees talk. It would have been even better, had we come through a few months from now when the berries were out, but neither of us are inclined to wait that long. Guess we'll have to go back. Plenty of Raspberry canes along that trail.

After that we kept going, onwards down the trail, following the route I saw on the map to where we connected to the Ice Age Trail. Well... I thought it was the Ice Age Trail, but turns out it wasn't quite. The trail DID lead to the IAT Trailhead, and bordered some private land, but it wasn't actually the Ice Age Trail. We went north of the park to the first blaze on the trail there (wasn't far, somebody was blaze-crazy, there was a yellow mark on the trees every 20 feet!) and having reached the furthest northern point I've ever been on the Ice Age Trail, we turned around to progress back into the park on the IAT this time.

We weren't far in, when a rather memorable moment occured. Suddenly, we heard the crack of wood breaking, and our vision was drawn ahead and to the left. We could clearly hear a tree toppling, and bringing down another with it. Thought there was a crew doing some spring cleaning, but there were no signs, and we couldn't see anyone. We went over, turns out it was right near that trail we came out that way on. No lumberjacks, the only thing that made this tree fall was today's wind and whatever forces had weakened the tree. I would later comment, in a rather windblown-looking section of the trail, that this was not a place I had any desire to stop (given the way everything leaned over the trail and our encounter with wind and gravity's trimming efforts)

We progressed deeper into the park, following the Ice Age Trail in. We kept checking the maps when we'd come across them, and we were progressing exactly like we intended. After that first misidentification, we had the right course finally. Our hike was structured around the plan to drop me off 10 miles north of the park and let me hike in to where Bob would be keeping base camp, as a first foray into section hiking (and one day, through hiking). Suddenly though, as we stood inspecting one of many map posts, we heard a now familiar sound, the cracking and snapping of wood, as yet another tree, directly ahead of us, about 50 yards up, topples into the floor! We couldn't believe it! Twice in such a short span of time, when in his 62, and my 33 years, neither of us had ever seen anything remotely like it. Not without someone cutting the tree to intentionally bring it down.

The trail lead onwards, and after a few more junctions it took us to some rather familiar terrain, trails I had tread before. Turns out, I'd been on the Ice Age Trail before without even knowing! Infact, in 2011, friends and I had camped directly beside it, our sites having an unofficial spur right off the trail where it meets the campground! At this point, I left Bob to read his book and go get my car. I started off down familiar walkways, I've camped here a number of times, and headed back for Allen Lake by way of the shortcut at site 20. Interrupting the spring frog chorus, I passed through a marshy segment and made my way to the lake proper.

This was my first time using my MSR Sweetwater Purification System. I did a LOT of research into filter options, and the Sweetwater looked like the most comprehensive method of filtering and purifying water. The filter is a carbon-based filter with a pore size small enough to filter out all the harmful cysts, protozoa and bacteria that might be in the water, and the system comes with a bottle of concentrated sodium hypochlorite (essentially, bleach) that you add to your filtered water and this takes care of any viruses or threats small enough to make it past the tiny pores of the filter. This isn't my review of the filter yet though, I've gotta give it a few days, make sure that I'm still feeling good. I have faith though, I trust this filter quite a bit.

I filled, rather, I over-filled my camelbak. Then I realized I needed to put the drops in, and couldn't do it from there. One of my backpack's few flaws is that the hydration pouch is right in with everything else, making it a pain to take the bladder in and out. However as of writing this, I realized I can just drip a few drops of the solution down the hydration tube, then mate the pump tube to it. Still a bit inconvenient having to have my pack right next to the water, and a bit inconvenient not knowing how full the bladder is. But it also sucks to have to repack the bag every time I filter water.

Picked Bob up from the camping area, and we relocated back by Allen Lake. Right off the parking lot is an awesome spot to hang out. The waterfall by the old fish cultivation project drowns out all the noise from the parking lot (except when somebody accidentally sets off their car alarm) and you can hear the brook babbling right behind you as you cook a Mountain House Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, or read your kindle for a couple hours.

Hartman Creek State Park (HCSP) is awesome, and if you're in the area, I strongly recommend you go there! Now, I'm going to upload some pictures and wish I was in better shape! Need to spend more time on the trails, good thing this week is looking nice!

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